The Florida SBDC at FIU Business (FSBDC) has stepped in to offer a lifeline in the wake of new challenges to the small business community.
Small businesses in South Florida hurt by the COVID-19 crisis found themselves on the brink, their owners trying desperately to keep the doors open and support their employees. As state and federal assistance programs for small businesses were rolled out, confusion about processes and eligibility often proved daunting for owners.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Florida SBDC at FIU Business (FSBDC) has assisted businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties in navigating federal, state and local disaster programs, helping get funds into the businesses' hands, and developing strategies to weather COVID-19.
"There have been countless programs available to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. But for most business owners, it is an 'alphabet soup' and difficult to decide on the best resources to take advantage of," said Brian Van Hook, regional director of the FSBDC at FIU. "Our team is helping local businesses navigate these programs, make informed decisions and ensure they have the right plan to successfully re-open when conditions improve."
As of June 2020, the FSBDC at FIU had helped businesses secure over $20.8 million in COVID-19 assistance.
FSBDC at FIU has assisted over 3,500 entrepreneurs and small businesses in Miami-Dade with marketing, financial management, disaster planning and strategy development, all at no cost, from its founding in 2014 to the end of 2019. During this time, it has helped generate $1.33 billion in increased sales and $123.3 million in government contracts.
In 2018, the FIU unit joined with the FSBDC Network to expand its work to Monroe County, giving Keys businesses smoother access to capital, market research and growth strategies. In the Florida Keys, which continues to recover from Hurricane Irma and diversify its economy, the center has assisted over 150 businesses from late 2018 through 2019.
"In the Florida Keys, we lack the economic development infrastructure that one might find in other counties," said FSBDC at FIU consultant Margie Smith, former CEO of United Way of the Florida Keys and a veteran player in the Keys economy with experience in banking, marketing and aviation. "We have provided much-needed guidance and access to capital to individual businesses that really have no other assistance of this sort available."
The combination of the deep sector-specific expertise of the FSBDC team in Miami and Smith's understanding of the Keys economy has enabled the FSBDC at FIU team to help 70 Keys clients through the end of 2019, providing nearly 800 hours of no-cost consulting.
For more information about no-cost consulting services provided by SBDC @ FIU in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, visit sbdc.fiu.edu.